DICTIONARY OF ART HISTORIANS
A Biographical Dictionary of Historic Scholars, Museum Professionals and Academic Historians of Art
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Date born: 1912
Place born: Heilbronn, Germany
Date died: 1981
Place died: Rome, Italy
Architectural historian of the Italian Renaissance. Lotz initially studied Law at Freiburg (im Breisgau) and art history at Munich. He received his Ph. D. in 1937 under Ludwig Heydenreich in Hamburg, writing his dissertation on Jacopo Vignola's architecture. From then until 1942 he worked at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence, first as a Fellow and then an Assistant. He was drafted into the German army and returned for military service in World War II. Captured by the allies in 1945, he was assigned to the International Commission for Monuments in Munich. With the conclusion of the war, Lotz found himself again working with Heydenreich, this time as deputy director (and Heydenreich as director) at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich. He accepted a call from Agnes Rindge Claflin, Professor of art at Vassar, to teach there in 1952, replacing Richard Krautheimer. Lotz wrote very few books for a scholar of his stature, preferring book-length articles. One article during this period, "Die ovalen Kirchenräume des Cinquecento" (1955) broke new ground in the subject of church building types. In 1959 he again replaced Krautheimer, this time at Krautheimer's retirement from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Lotz supervised many dissertations at NYU. In 1962 he accepted the directorship of the Bibliotheca Hertziana (Max Planck Institut) in Rome in. There he enlarged the institution's focus to cover Italian art and architecture, attracting scholars from throughout the world. It was during this final period of his life that Lotz wrote the two books which made him accessible to the broader and English-speaking world. The first, published in 1974 with Heydenreich, was the thirty-eighth volume of the Pelican History of Art, The Architecture in Italy: 1400-1600. Although constrained by the format Penguin Press set for the series, the survey book nevertheless demonstrated Lotz's sensitivity to, among other issues, architectural patronage as a portion of architectural history. The following year Lotz published a selection of his articles translated into English, Studies in Italian Architecture. He was elected president of the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio in Vicenza. He retired from the Hertziana in 1980 with the intention to continue his scholarship. However, while running on the Spanish steps in Rome to move his car (to avoid a parking ticket), he suffered a heart attack and died. He is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. André Chastel succeeded him as president of the Palladio center.
Lotz's methodology has been described as pragmatic, flexible and empirical. Like many of the architectural historians of his generation (and particularly those who contributed to the Pelican History of Art series), Lotz employed a linear view of stylistic development in regard to architecture. He saw the history of architecture as the emergence of strong architect personalities (such as Bramante) on building style. Ever more Rome-focused in his thinking, he virtually ignored south Italy in favor of major architectural centers. Despite these limitations, Lotz's work was rooted in the object. Architectural theory was less a factor in interpretation than the documents of the building itself. In this sense, he contrasts approaches like that of Rudolf Wittkower in Wittkower's Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism. He was seldom interested in abstract theory, preferring patronage as a dominant factor in architecture. Lotz also had an appreciation for interiors, unusual among architectural historians of his age. He approached a building as a viewer would, relying less on floor plans or preliminary drawings and more on the de facto completed project. "Lotz's youthful research on Vignola seems to have left him with an intuitive sympathy for canonical, if inventive, classicism, whereas he remained uncomfortable with what he defined as 'mannerist' attitudes." (Deborah Howard). LS
Home Country: Germany
Sources: Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Modern
Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology of 20th-Century Writings
on the Visual Arts. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, 51 mentioned; Römisches
Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte 20 (1983): 1-5; Ackerman, James.
"In Memoriam, Wolfgang Lotz." Journal of the Society of
Architectural Historians 41 (March 1982): 5-6; Dictionary of Art
19: 718; Howard, Deborah. "Lotz's Text: Its Achievement
and Significance." in Lotz, Wolfgang. Architecture in
Italy: 1500-1600. Pelican History of Art. New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press, 1995. pp. 1-7; "Frances Huemer." Art History Oral
Documentation [interview] October 28, 2005.
Subject's name: Wolfgang Lotz